While all the focus around the NFL is on the 2023 Scouting Combine, the New England Patriots are working out a wide receiver with ties to Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that New England was working out free agent wide receiver Slade Bolden. Reiss added that Bolden is healthy after dealing with a sports hernia in 2022.
Bolden was an undrafted free agent who was signed by the Baltimore Ravens but was placed on injured reserve in August and released by the Ravens in October.
Jones and Bolden built some chemistry In 2020 while they were roommates at Alabama. The wide receiver caught 24 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with Jones as his quarterback. The following year, Bolden racked up 42 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns.
Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, Bolden said that he hoped to play with Jones in the NFL.
“Playing with Mac would be cool,” Bolden said. “He’s a good friend of mine. We have a good connection. It would be an easy transition for sure, but at the end of the day, whoever gives me an opportunity, I’ll be thankful.”
Slade Bolden Modeled Himself After New England Patriots Legend Julian Edelman
Bolden caught the attention of Patriots fans leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft by telling reporters that he modeled his game after Julian Edelman.
“Julian Edelman, for sure,” Bolden said, according to a 2022 story by MassLive’s Chris Mason. “Just the way he played the game, how he worked, his mindset going in — you can’t guard me, you can’t stop me, I’m going to catch everything. That kind of mindset, I kind of see myself being that kind of person. I try to emulate that the best I can.”
Edelman even reacted to the quote on Twitter.
Julian Edelman Wasn’t the Only New England Patriots Wide Receiver That Slade Bolden Modeled his Game After
The Patriots have had plenty of talented slot receivers that Bolden could have modeled his game after. He said that Alabama used him in a Wes Welker-like role when speaking with reporters at last year’s scouting combine.
“It was basically kind of how they used me. … If you need a good third-down play, a good third-down catch, or having that guy that’s been able to run an option route, or run the catch-tuck-turn type passes,” he said. “That’s the kind of guy Wes [Welker] was – catch the ball in the middle of the field, with no traffic. That’s kind of how I was used as well.”
The Patriots are in need of help at wide receiver. Jones struggled in 2022 with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while throwing for less than 3,000 yards per Pro Football Reference.
New England may also be without Jakobi Meyers in 2023 as the wide receiver is set to be a free agent. If Meyers does leave, the need for a wide receiver will be increased even more.
Bolden met with the Patriots prior to the 2022 NFL Draft so there has been interest before and with the Alabama wide receiver earning a workout, the interest appears to still be there.
So while it might have been a year later than Bolden hoped, he might finally reunite with Jones in the NFL.